Tuesday, August 10, 2010

75. Time of my Life

The next step in the internship process was to choose my top five magazines picks from the list of about 40 they sent us. The coordinators would take this list into consideration when they made their decision on which magazine to place each of us at. At the top of my list: Playboy. C'mon, you'd have done the same thing. Can't you just imagine being out at a bar meeting people and someone asks you where you work? Talk about a conversation starter.

Of course, I didn't end up there, but I got my No. 2 pick. I chose it because it was relatively new, so I assumed I'd get my hand in a lot of things, and it was a foodies' magazine, which was a genre I had no experience in. Sure, I loved food, but all of my dinners came out of a box or off a menu, and at that point I couldn't tell Bobbie Flay from Chef Boyardee. The job description included organizing taste tests and writing front-of-book items. I was sold. I was just glad I didn't get placed at Field & Stream.

By the time I packed up and hopped on a plane to New York, Casey and I were back to our twisted ways. But I was about to adjust to sleeping alone in bed really quickly when I moved into my two bedroom NYU dorm with three other girls. Even if I wanted to share my bed with someone, there was nowhere to put him. Hell, I barely fit in that bed. But I was living in New York City, on Union Square for that matter! I really couldn't complain. All of my roommates, as well as at least 20 other people on our floor, were in the same internship program, all at different magazines.

One of our first outtings as a group was a trip to the Museum of Sex. Nothing says icebreaker like watching weird fetish porn with a bunch of people you just met. I became really close with a group of about five other girls, and to this day I consider them some of my best friends. I can honestly say it was the best summer I've ever had.

There was the time early that summer that I got a press invite to a party to celebrate the 5th anniversary of a big PR company. I called to RSVP, dropped the name of my magazine and left out the fact that I was a mere intern, and asked for a plus 4. I figured they'd laugh at my request for such an absurd number of guests, but access was granted. Next thing I knew, we were standing in front of the velvet rope at a swanky lounge and I was saying, "Whitney, plus four" to the person at the door with the clipboard. He motioned us through the velvet rope.

Let's just say not one of us played it cool. It was our first NYC velvet rope experience, and you could tell. "HOLY CRAP! We were on the list! When he moved the rope I felt like such a bad ass!" We all jumped up in down in our heels, and then composed ourselves as quickly as we could. The inside of the bar was dark and swanky.

And the bar was open. Very open. When you live in NYC on an intern's income, there are things you learn to take advantage of: free booze, free food, and free parties, in no particular order. At least seven drinks in we found ourselves crowded into a cushioned oversized booth, closed on three sides with draped curtains, with a handful of people we'd never seen before. They were passing around a joint.

"Holy shit. Are they smoking weed? Like, right here? In front of everyone?" I asked Lynn (yes, the Lynn who made Cayden and I kiss that night at the bar).

She nodded, looked a little less shocked than me, but just as drunk. I'd never smoked weed. Sure, I'd been around it at parties, but seeing it right there in the open in the middle of a lounge, that was something else entirely. When the joint made its way to me, I quickly passed it on and made a cheers-ing gesture with my Cape Code instead, sloshing it onto the dark wood table.

The party hosts handed out gift bags before the night was over. Instead of accepting them nonchalantly and waiting until we left the party to open then, we tore through them.

"Holy shit, look! A $50 gift card!"
"No, check out this peppermint heel scrub!"
"Umm, did you guys see the gold-leaf necklace with matching stud earrings?"

We were in intern heaven. But by 4:30 am, it felt a little more like hell as we sat on the subway, trying not to throw up as the word swam around us. We walked through the lobby of our dorm carrying our shoes, our purses, our gift bags (which we called goodie bags), and Lea, who had forgotten how to walk.

Another time I received a media invite to a fashion show. I RSVPed, plus an insane amount, and we ended up at an exclusive club with the male models from the runway. One of the models, an attractive black guy with a shaved head, who I swore was gay, took a liking to me, and I felt him slide his hand down the back of my jeans while I watched one of the other models snort a line of coke of the small of a girl's back. That's when I decided it was time to leave. We stumbled out, drunk and laughing, asking each other, "How did we get here!? I love this city!!"

And it was true. We loved it. We were broke, but we had the time of our lives. We were regulars at the Crocodile Lounge down the street because they served free pizza with every beer you bought. I'm not talking about a slice of pizza, I'm talking about a whole pizza pie, cooked right in front of you by Steven and Miguel. Yes, I knew their names. I spoke drunken Spanish to them, and they let me cut to the front of line. They gave me free pizza, as many as I wanted without a drink ticket. They even added whatever toppings I wanted. I'd kiss them on the cheeks and then one of them would sneak away and take goofy photos with me in the photo booth. Later, the other one would challenge me to a game of skee ball, which I always won.

That's how we kept ourselves fed. I also developed quite a crush on one of the bar backs. Turns out, when he wasn't cleaning up after drunken idiots, he was making music. In fact, he was a rapper who went by the name of T. Shirt. No, I'm not making this up (he's on myspace). He brought me a CD one day, and I fell in love with his music. He was about 5'9" and I couldn't tell what ethnicity he was, but in one of his songs I think he says he's Greek. Who knows, but he was sexy.

One night I was at the Crocodile Lounge with my girls, and Lea was so drunk she started making out with an old guy in a turban. I'm not hating on turbans, but turban or no turban, this guy was gross. I pulled on her arm and said, "Uhh, Lea? You don't want that." She looked at me with drunk eyes. "But his lips are so soft!" Just then, T. Shirt walked by.

"Hey, have you seen the back patio yet?" he asked.

What? A back patio? I'd been to that bar a million times and had never seen or heard about a back patio. I figured he was playing games with me.

"There's no patio," I said, hesitating.

"Yeah there is. Want to see it?"

Lynn grabbed my arm. "Whitney, he's asking if you want to see the back patio. Who gives a fuck if it exists or not! Just go!"

What would I do without Lynn?

T led me to an emergency exit door in the back. Even the butterflies in my stomach were drunk. They were running into each other, stumbling all over my insides. He pushed it open and I stepped outside. Sure enough, there was a patio.

"We close it after 9 so the noise doesn't disturb our neighbors," he explained.

"Well, that's thoughtful," I said, looking around, realizing it was just me and T out there. I felt light-headed and woozy and awesome.

Suddenly my phone rang. I didn't want to answer it. T looked at it and said, "Go ahead." I put the phone to my ear.

"Whitney? Whitney? Where are you?" It was Lea. She must have been done making out with Mr. Soft Lips. Suddenly I felt a pair of soft lips on my neck. T was kissing my neck. I couldn't remember how to talk.

"I uh, I uh, I uh. I'm outside," I said into the phone, tilting my head to the left to give T more room to maneuver.

"Come get me. I don't know where you are."

His mouth was warm and I had goosebumps all over.

"Lea.... I'll... uh, I'll uh, I'll be right in."

T pulled away.

"I guess I should let you get back to your friend," he said.

That was as far as T and I ever got. Although I was sure I could fit him in my tiny bed if I tried.

The summer came to an end and I had to say goodbye to my NYC life. Bye to my new friends, bye to my crush on T Shirt, and bye to my party-until-4 am ways. Oh, and bye to my incredible internship, of course.

And then it was hello senior year. Hello new internship. Hello my college friends. And... Hello, Casey.

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